Whether you rise before dawn to crush your fitness goals or fit in a sweat session in the evening, the best time to work out depends on a lot of factors. In a recent Facebook post on the Official Peloton Member Page, we asked you if you preferred working out in the morning or at night, and an overwhelming 77 percent of you chose morning. But are morning workouts truly better for accomplishing your fitness goals? We asked Peloton Tread instructor Andy Speer to share some expert advice on how to help you find the best workout time for you.
Morning Win: Feel Better, Together
“If I don’t do it in the morning, I will talk myself out of it. I’ve recently been riding at 5:15 am with the 5:15 tribe. It’s made a world of difference on my life,” says Beth Ann B. Peloton’s motivating community can not only help you get up early to workout, it can also help you reap the emotional benefits of starting your day with a workout. “Training in the morning pumps blood to your brain, releases endorphins and excites your nervous system,” explains Andy. “All are great side effects to spur creativity, build confidence and increase your energy throughout the day.” While your body thrives off of movement in the morning, your emotions get a boost as well. Particularly right after a workout, “you have an immediate feeling of achievement,” he says. “When you knock out a challenging workout, your mental state is set to take on the day’s challenges.”
Morning Challenge: Wake Up Early With Energy
“I really want to be a morning person but so far haven’t been able to bring myself to it…evening for now,” says Member Gary H. If you struggle to consistently wake up early, Andy suggests creating the habit with small, gradual changes. “Forcing yourself to wake up early will eventually lead you to get to sleep earlier. It may take a few days, but it will happen. You can generally work out any time in the morning, assuming you get seven to eight hours of sleep, so a 5 am workout is great if you are asleep by 9 pm.” he says. “Start with easy morning workouts, routines you are familiar with and that are not too intense, and change one major variable at a time. Once you feel better about getting up and working out early, then add intensity and variety.” Another powerful tool to start your day with an energetic workout is through a proper warm up. “Warming up with drills that wake up both your mind and body is crucial,” he says. “Five to ten minutes of warm up focusing on mobility, central nervous system activation and mental prep is the best way to get and stay motivated for your workout.”
Nighttime Win: Listen To Your Body
If evening workouts are when you have the most energy, or when you feel most alert, they can also be an effective way to accomplish your fitness goals within a busy schedule. Member Rachel L. noticed that because of stiffness, she sees higher output when she works out in the evenings, while Member Leslie L. says “My legs just won’t move.” If you’re simply accustomed to working out in the evening, ensure that your classes aren’t what’s causing your morning stiffness by stretching sufficiently after every workout. But if you’re truly a night owl (as Member Francisco M. commented “My mind says morning, but my body says evenings”) be conscious of the recovery time between your workouts. “Doing an intense evening workout followed by an intense morning workout may not be ideal for recovery,” says Andy. “If you have to, extend the warm up in the morning session. Keep the intensity high, but shorten the actual workout.”
Nighttime Challenge: Winding Down After a Night Workout
The main concern with exercising at night is that it can lead to difficulties falling asleep. Andy explains why some experience a surge of energy after working out, and how to properly wind down for a quality night’s sleep.“Working out is waking up your nervous system,” says Andy. “It turns on your sympathetic system (fight or flight), which can make it difficult to fall asleep when your body is still waiting to do the next sprint or pushup.” To avoid this issue, Andy recommends adding in a longer cooldown to your workout before going to bed. “If you find it difficult to fall asleep at night after training, try training either earlier or emphasize an extended cooldown. Take 15 minutes to stretch, breath or do an easy yoga flow. The point is to turn on your parasympathetic nervous system to rest and recover. Finishing a hard workout, showering and going right to sleep without cooling down is not ideal.” If you successfully implement these tactics, working out in the evenings actually might become a sleep aid instead of a deterrent.
The Bottom Line: Getting it Done is the Most Important
No matter what, focusing on your body’s preferences and planning to schedule your training based on when you have the most energy and time is the most important, and many of our members agree. “I regularly do both [morning and evening workouts], so I don’t have an excuse to tell myself I ‘missed’ my workout window. I make it a priority whenever I can fit it in,” says Amy S. And when you’re crunched for time, Andy has a simple strategy to maximize the time and energy you do have. “Do the most important element either first or when you feel the best. If you are more likely to skip running at night, then put it in the morning and lift at night, or vice versa. Bottom line, make your training work within your routine.”